Rental Guidelines


The South Carolina State Museum welcomes the use of its meeting facilities and galleries to corporations, organizations and individuals.
Any individual, group, organization or corporation may apply for rental of the museum through the Facility Event office.    All events are subject to the policies and procedures listed below. Because of the uniqueness of our location inside the historic Columbia Mills Building, (which is on the National Register) we ask your understanding and cooperation in helping us preserve the integrity of the building and the museum collections.
The museum reserves the right to refuse use of the facility to any event that is inconsistent with the museum’s purpose and/or responsibility as a state-funded institution.

Alcoholic Beverages
  • Use of alcoholic beverages must be in accordance with South Carolina law.
  • A temporary license is required if you are selling alcohol, or selling ticketed admission that includes alcohol.
  • Any person under age 21 will not be served alcohol under any circumstances. The renter is responsible for the enforcement of this policy.  Violations may result in the event’s immediate termination and cancellation of the remainder of the event with all fees owed and retained by the Museum for the use of the rental space.
  • An alcohol use agreement form must be signed and returned along with a $25 fee per bar in order to serve alcohol at your event. 
  • Alcoholic beverages may be consumed on museum property after hours or in rooms not accessible to the public during museum operating hours.
  • All bars will be closed one-half hour prior to the scheduled end of the event.
  • At no time will the museum allow alcohol to be served without food.
  • The museum reserves the right to discontinue alcohol usage at any time during an event.
  • The renter is responsible for discontinuing serving alcohol to intoxicated guests
  • Food and beverages are not permitted in exhibit galleries.
  • Richland County Sheriff’s officers will be secured at the renter’s expense for any event serving alcohol.

With the exception of guide animals, animals are prohibited in the Museum unless they are part of an approved program.

Audio/Visual Equipment
  • The museum has a variety of AV equipment which may be rented.
  • A museum AV technician is available to work with your event at a cost of $35 per hour. (Minimum 2 hours)
  • Renters may bring in AV equipment. Renter is responsible for all cords and cables. All cords and cables must be visibly secured and approved for safety. The museum does not provide laptops.
  • Internet (wired or wireless) is available in most meeting spaces. The café is wireless for the enjoyment of museum guests.

Helium balloons may be used in the museum, but must be secured.  Balloons must be removed or disposed of after events.  Helium tanks must be secured on approved dollies and meet OSHA regulations.

Event related banners may be hung on the day of the event with prior approval from the museum. Banners that cannot be hung safely and without causing damage to the museum surfaces will not be approved. A $25 fee will apply for museum staff to hang banners.


  • A deposit of 50% is due when the signed contract is returned. Full payment of the estimated amount is due 5 business days prior to the event. (State agencies must return the signed contract and submit approved purchase order)
  • Any other charges incurred during the event will be billed following the event.
  • Final payment is due within 30 days of the invoice date.
  • Checks may be made payable to the South Carolina State Museum. Visa, Mastercard and Discover are also accepted as means of payment.

Cancellation Policy
Events may be cancelled, but deposits are non-refundable.  The deposit may be credited if the event is rescheduled during the fiscal year, July 1 – June 30.

Catering for Daytime Events
Catering for all daytime events must be arranged through Blue Marlin Signature Catering at (803)227-3360. Click here to view menus and prices.

Catering for Evening Events
All food and beverages must be contracted with a caterer on the museum’s approved catering list. Click here to view the Approved Evening Caterers list.

Rental of museum space includes general trash removal and clean-up at the end of the event.  In case of excessive trash, an additional charge of $25 will be assessed.  The museum is not responsible for items left after events.  All remaining items will be discarded.  Arrangements must be made with museum staff in advance if items cannot be removed the day of the event.


  • Cooking, frying and sauté’ stations are not permitted in the building.  It is the renter’s responsibility to inform the caterer of this policy. 
  • Cooking is permitted outside in designated places only.
  • Warming ovens are available in the kitchen.
  • The use of candles or any open flame is prohibited.
  • Glitter, confetti, streamers, rice, etc. are not allowed in the museum.  Violation of this policy will result in a $75 clean-up fee.
  • Live plants may be brought in the day of the event and removed when the event is over.
  • Installation and removal of decorations are the responsibility of the renter on the day of the event. Surfaces damaged from use of decorations will be repaired at the renter’s expense.
  • Tape or adhesive materials may not be used on any painted or wood surface. Tape is permitted on brick and glass surfaces, but must be removed following the event.

Should your event require freight, FedEx, UPS, etc. delivery, all shipments should be sent c/o South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais Street, Loading Zone D, Columbia, SC 29201 and sent to the attention of the Facility Event Office.

Deliveries the day of the event should report to Loading Zone D in the rear of the building for directions to the service entrance or Congaree Room for unloading. Call (803)898-4981 for assistance with deliveries.

The museum has tables, chairs, pipe and drape, data projectors, screens, microphones, portable PA system, phone line for internet connection or conference calls, piano, trash cans, coat racks, and skirting for tables.  Please see the equipment price list for charges.

Exhibit Galleries
Exhibit galleries may be rented in the evening for an additional charge. Special exhibits will be charged per person in addition to the gallery rental. No food or drink may be taken into the exhibit areas.

Final Floor Plan
A walk-through with all involved parties is recommended at least 2 weeks before the event. Final floor plan changes are requested 3 business days before the event.

All fundraising events must be by invitation only and the pre-approval form must be signed by the museum’s executive director and foundation’s executive director before a contract is issued. All media promotions or public notices for fundraising events must be approved by the museum prior to release.

The Cotton Mill Exchange provides a variety of unique South Carolina merchandise. The store manager will be happy to help you select gifts for your speakers and/or guests.  Clients may request the museum store be open during the event.  Advance notice is required and a minimum fee may be assessed.

Invitations for non-museum sponsored events may not use the name of the State Museum except as the designated location of the event. Invitations must have a beginning and ending time reflecting the hour agreed to on the contract. A renter may not use the name or likeness of the museum to promote any event.  The museum must approve any invitation copy before its release.

Adjustable lighting is available in the Auditorium and Vista Room.  Please notify facility event staff of additional lighting or electrical needs for vendors bringing in additional lighting.

All event-related media promotion: flyers, PSAs, website, social networking sites, or mailed invitations, must be approved by the museum prior to printing and distribution.  The museum reserves the right to confiscate any inappropriate material displayed or handed out at an event.  Failure to comply with this policy may result in cancellation of the event.  Use of the Museum’s name to promote, advertise or sell tickets to an event (other than as the location of the event) is prohibited.  On-site media coverage of an event must be approved by the museum in advance.

Band, disc jockey, or other entertainment must notify the Facility Event office of their equipment type, electrical set-up, and time of arrival. Smoke machines are not allowed in the museum. Any staging, cords, microphones or electrical/gaffers tape is the responsibility of the band or DJ.  Groups requiring more power than the standard electrical outlet should contact the museum in advance to arrange sufficient power. The museum will make every effort to accommodate your needs.

It is the responsibility of the renter to maintain a noise level respectful of the building, its guests and its surrounding neighborhood, if outside.  The museum reserves the right to request that volume levels be lowered.

Occupancy restrictions
Renter shall abide by all occupancy restrictions posted above each room. Occupancy is determined by the State Fire Marshal for the safety of our guests. The museum staff reserves the right to enforce occupancy restrictions.

Overtime policy
The museum charge is an additional $300 per hour for every hour over the three hours allowed for an event. Extra hours must be requested one week in advance. Late-night events must conclude no later than midnight. 

Free parking is available in front of the museum for your guests. Should additional parking be required, there is a parking garage located on the left side of the building that may be used for overflow parking or event staff parking on nights and weekends.

Posters and signs must be mounted on easels or other individual displays. They may not be affixed in any way to museum surfaces except on the brick or glass in the Atrium.

Public Events
Organizations wanting to host evening events open to the public are required to complete the “Pre-approval Form,” and have it approved by the Executive Director of the museum before a contract will be finalized. Richland County Sheriff’s officers must provide security at the renter’s expense. Invitations must be approved in advance of distribution and must include the beginning and ending time of the event. 

Sale of Merchandise or Tickets at the Door
Any vendor selling items at events must pay a $35 vendor fee or 10% of gross sales to the museum. Groups selling tickets at the door will be assessed 10% of total receipts of sales.

If an event is serving alcohol, officers from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department must be provided at the renter’s expense. The number of officers will be determined at the museum’s discretion. Generally, one security officer per 100 guests is required.  The museum is not liable for any accident, loss, theft or vandalism that occurs during rental of the facility. The Sheriff’s Duty form may be downloaded from the museum web page, and returned to the museum for processing.

Set-up/Take Down
The facility event staff will be on site to set-up, take down and clean up your event. Caterers will be responsible to clean up food, bar and kitchen areas before leaving the site.  Please notify the event coordinator of any last minute changes or instructions.  The museum staff strives to provide a safe, clean environment for each event. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to meet your expectations.

Smoking is not allowed in state buildings.  Ashtrays are provided on patios outside museum entrances. 

Tentative Holds
A tentative hold may be placed on a space.  The hold will be released in 2 weeks if a contract is not requested within that time. The renter will have 2 weeks to return the contract with the deposit.  Contracts not returned within the 2 weeks will be cancelled and the space released.

Weddings and Wedding Receptions
Weddings and wedding receptions may be held at the museum. There will be an added cost for use of additional space and additional time. Classrooms may be used for dressing rooms.  The use of candles, confetti, bird seed, flower petals or rice on museum property is prohibited.